In the 2015 MLB Draft the Los Angeles Dodgers first few picks clearly demonstrated the front office was focused on adding experienced, college arms to their organization. That was highlighted by their first-round pick, right-hander Walker Buehler out of Vanderbilt University.
Some of the shine that came with selecting Buehler wore off when news surfaced the 21 year old required Tommy John surgery. Six weeks after undergoing the ligament-repairing operation, Buehler paid a visit to Dodger Stadium, and provided an update on the road ahead.
“The plan is to try and throw next year at instructional league,” Buehler said. “It’s about 13 and a half months out of surgery, so it’s a pretty conservative timeline from what I’ve heard. There’s not a whole lot of pressure.”
Buehler also added he is trying to remain positive throughout the process. “It’s kind of similar to this game. I think this game is really high and low,” he said. “You can hit a home run, then strike out your next at-bat. That’s what the situation was for me. Your lifelong dream comes true, and then it’s put on pause for a year.”
In 16 starts during his junior year at Vanderbilt, Buehler had a 5-2 record with a 2.95 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 88.1 innings. He did say he felt some pain in his elbow throughout the season, but didn’t believe Tommy John surgery would be the extent of it.
“It was one of those things where during the season I pitched through some stuff and the elbow wasn’t perfect,” he said. “I didn’t think it was that [UCL damage] and it ended up being that. I think it was the best time I could have had it.”
Because of the elbow issue Buehler ended up signing for less than what was projected, agreeing to $1.7 million, which fell under the $2 million slot value. Buehler, a political science major at Vanderbilt, plans to return to school to complete his degree.